Thursday, July 23, 2009

Garden in the Sky - New York "High Line"

Strolling the New York "High Line"

The minute an email landed in my inbox featuring the New York "High Line" I knew I just had to write a little about it on my blog. I love a public garden and especially and innovative one which makes use of disused space. What better than a disused railway line above the city. I remember a similar thing in Paris. But this looks magnificent - I particularly love the design which reflects it's previous use and the incorporation of the old railway line in the design. Should I ever return to New York it will be high on my list of must sees. I just emailed a friend who lives in that fine city and she tells me that the park is only two blocks from her home and that she feels like a part of the city has been reclaimed just for her - what finer praise could a public park receive.

Never did Railway Tracks look so good!

The High Line was originally constructed in the 1930s, to lift dangerous freight trains off Manhattan's streets. The first section opened in June this year and when all sections are complete (scheduled for next year), the High Line will be a mile-and-a-half-long elevated park through some of the West Side neighbourhoods. The landscape is designed by landscape architects James Corner Field Operations, with architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, combining meandering concrete pathways with naturalistic plantings.

But I shan't write too much about it as you can see for yourself. This link takes you to the article with gorgeous photos I received in my inbox.

The "High Line" location map

Before Transformation

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dali and Restraint

Dali's sculpture and local plant material

This week found me at the National Gallery of Victoria's winter masterpiece exhibition on Salvador Dali. I was accompanied on my outing by my mother and my seven year old son. As you can imagine my tour around the gallery was a speedy one. My son was literally hauling me around the gallery following the "ant trail" to various points where there were items selected especially for children.

While I probably need to visit again to obtain an adult perspective my brief tour of the exhibition visit brought back to me memories of my trip to Port Lligat in Spain the location of Dali's summer retreat.

I started to look through photos and two things became clear. The very distinct building materials of the area and the very distinct plant materials. I probably harp on too much about this but I honestly think limiting plant material and hard landscaping material can only be a good thing particularly when it reflects the local materials. Of course we don't all have such a distinct architectural style to work with but I hope you agree that sometimes there is a great deal to be said for restraint.

I know it seems impossibly ridiculous to mention Dali and restraint in the same context but in this case I promise you it is appropriate.

The materials of his home are local and his eccentricities on the whole are not on display to the outside world but contained within his walls. With his artists eye he framed the exquisite views through small windows and openings. The garden itself is a series of courtyards mainly inwardly focused. The largest of which containing a long pool reminiscent of the very famous pool at Granada.
The Courtyard Garden of Dali's Port Lligat home

The main planting material on display in the garden is olive trees. The house and garden are simple, reflective of the local vernacular and yet of course it remains an intensely personal expression. A great artist indeed.

A house built using the local materials

PS forgive me my absence. I vow to post more frequently and more briefly so I can maintain the conversation!